Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Khimki: The Town Where You’re Guilty until Proven Innocent

This morning (monday 27th of September - editor) the court in Khimki extended
the police custody of Alexei Gaskarov for another two months. The web site of
the Russian edition of Newsweek has the details (our comments are in square

A Kommersant correspondent has informed Newsweek that antifascist Alexei
Gaskarov’s term in a pretrial detention facility [in Mozhaisk] has been
extended by two months. The court hearing was held in open chamber. However,
a small room was chosen for the hearing, and therefore only one journalist
and Alexei Gaskarov’s mother were admitted inside.

Gaskarov’s lawyer told Judge Svetlana Galanova that his client had only
been summoned for questioning on three occasions over the course of his time
in police custody. [Gaskarov has been in police custody since July 29.] He
also noted that over the past [two] months no investigative actions had been
conducted [with his client], although over 100 people have already been
questioned. [Our sources in the campaign say that this figure is closer to
200]. There is therefore no need for Gaskarov’s continued confinement.

He also noted that three State Duma deputies and three public figures had
vouched for Alexei Gaskarov’s good character — the first time this had
happened in his practice as a lawyer.

Gaskarov said that he does not consider himself guilty as charged, and
that he was in Khimki during the time of the events as a correspondent for
the Institute for Collective Action. He requested that the judge order him
released from the pretrial detention facility because of the onset of cold

The prosecution justified its request for Gaskarov’s continued confinement
to police custody by arguing that Gaskarov had acted as part of a group of
persons whose identities had not been established. He could not be released
from the pretrial detention facility because this might impede further
investigation of the incident.

The hearing in Maxim Solopov’s case will take place tomorrow.

Judge Galanova Has Revoked the Presumption of Innocence

This morning, Judge Svetlana B. Galanova, the temporary acting chair of the
Khimki Municipal Court, ruled that social activist Alexei Gaskarov should be
kept in police custody for another two months. Alexei has been charged with
disorderly conduct (the maximum prison term for which is seven years) for his
alleged involvement in a demonstration on July 28, 2010, outside the Khimki
town hall. The other person charged in the case, Maxim Solopov, is also still
in police custody, and the court hearing that will decide whether to extend
his arrest is scheduled for 2 p.m. tomorrow in Khimki.

According to Anya, Alexei Gaskarov’s girlfriend, today’s hearing was
semi-closed to the public: only lawyer Georgy Semyonovsky, Alexei’s mother
Irina, and Kommersant journalist Alexander Chernykh were allowed into the
courtroom. The approximately fifteen people who came for the hearing –
including Alexei’s friends, Anya herself, and other journalists – were forced
to wait in the hallway. According to one of them, Alexander Malinovsky,
Alexei appeared grim but held up like a champ. His supporters only had a few
seconds to look at Alexei as he was led by guards down the hallway.

When I write that Judge Galanova has revoked the presumption of innocence, I
have in mind not only her decision today to extend the police custody of
Alexei Gaskarov, in relation to whom no investigative actions have been
conducted for a month already (that is, he has not been interrogated,
summoned to meet with the investigators, etc.)

I also have in mind the amazing document that Spanish trade unionists from the
CNT-AIT (Confederación Nacional del Trabajo) received from Judge Galanova in
reply to their inquiry about the fate of Alexei Gaskarov.

In a letter dated September 15, 2010, and marked No. k-9, temporary acting
chair Galanova writes as follows:

“As a result of the criminal case materials presented by the investigative
organs, the court ruled that he be remanded to police custody. Suspect
Gaskarov can be freed from criminal prosecution if evidence is presented of
his lack of complicity in the circumstances that served as the basis for the
opening of the criminal case.”

You can view the entire letter at the web site of the AIT’s Russian section

Judge Galanova’s Letter to Spanish Trade Unionists

For all intents and purposes, temporary acting chair Galanova declared that
Alexei Gaskarov would remain in prison until his innocence is proven.

According to the presumption of innocence – the fundamental legal principle on
which the criminal investigative and judicial system is based throughout the
world, including the Russian Federation – suspects are not required to prove
their innocence. On the contrary, police investigators and prosecutors must
present evidence of a suspect’s guilt.

So it would appear that Svetlana B. Galanova, temporary acting chair of the
Khimki Municipal Court, is simply ignorant of the law.

How then is she able to chair a municipal court, to work as a judge, to make
judicial rulings that affect the lives of other people?

Galanova, however, does serve as a judge. Today she extended the term of
Alexei Gaskarov’s confinement in police custody.

This means that the Campaign for the Release of the Khimki Hostages will
contiune its work. We’ve held approximately 40 protest actions in 33
countries and 12 countries. We’ve sent thousands of messages and appeals to
the court, the prosecutor, and the Russian president. Do they need more?
We’ll give them more.

The disgraceful behavior of the Russian judicial system will become a matter
of public record the world over.
Vlad Tupikin
September 27, 2010
The English translation is taken from here


No comments: